Shave Diary, Week of 8/16/15

Posted: August 22, 2015 in Shaving Articles
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8/16/15:

It appears that the three pass shave from the AS-D2 is going to allow a light stubble after 24 hours. I suppose this is not unexpected. These are not miracle machines, just handles for the application of sharp blades to one’s face. And, of course, the body seems to respond to shaving by growing the stubble at an accelerated rate. I suppose that’s probably not the actual process. I’m sure that it is the increased blood flow to the epidermis from the various stimulation, etc. Still.

I did my first four pass shave with the AS-D2 today. Proraso Green with the green pre-shave. Full baby’s backside smoothness, minimal irritation. I finished with the Rite-Aid store brand version of Aqua Velva (I actually compared the two in the store, and saw no real upside to the “real stuff”). Nice post-shave feel. No nicks, cuts, weepers, or razor burn. I have always been a fan of the Aqua Velva scent profile. As they once said, “There’s something about an Aqua Velva man.”

My sense is that I’ll skip the alum block most of the time. It just seems to irriate my skin a little more than I feel is warranted unless I’m staunching a cut.

I’ve noticed that the AS-D2 has no proclivity to shave off my mole, which is nice. It is very easy to do with a lot of shavers/systems, and turning the shave lather red is not really that much fun.

The third shave for the Feather blade went fine. I didn’t notice a really palpable loss of sharpness. There was no juddering around on my face or the like. Seemed to basically perform the same as when new. Nonetheless, I discarded it and gave the razor a disassembly and rinse. It is currently drying. There was no soap residue or other untoward gunk inside the razor. It fits very tightly together, and I typically swirl it around in my tupperware container of 91% alcohol and Lemon Oil. This stuff, in a sealable container, seems to really do a nice job keeping the water displaced, the soap scum denatured, and the metal lubricated. Of course, since the Lemon Oil has some petroleum distallates in it, the wise course is to rinse out the razor before you shave with it (which I always do anyway, as I like to get the surface warm before applying it to my face.)

***
8/17/15:

Tonight, I did my first shave with the Wilkinson Sword Classic blade. I did a “for the record” shave, using my established protocols for testing. I was using the AS-D2 razor, Proraso White, no preshave…

Let me cut to the chase. I got a really excellent shave with the Wilkinson blade. It proved to have good efficiency and speed on my face, while also being very comfortable. I was emboldened to try shaving techniques that can be iffy, like going sideways across my neck right at the fold line (one of the most sensitive areas, for me.) I experienced slight redness, but that area gets red just touching it with my fingers, so I have no negative feelings about the shave thus far. As I’ve mentioned before, though, it’s bad to jump to hasty conclusions. I’ve felt like the shave went swimmingly, then showed up with razor burn a few hours later. One never knows.

Still and all, I liked the shave a lot. The Sword blade appears to be a pretty simpatico match to the AS-D2.

Let me also say that I’ve been consistently impressed with the Proraso White shave soap. I have enjoyed all of the Proraso stuff I’ve picked up. The red has a scent that I’m over the moon about, and the green has fantastic face feel (it can actually fool you into thinking you’re having a better shave than is the case with all that menthol and eucalyptus). Both the green and red preshave are useful. I have used them in their stated rolls, but I almost think that they are better aftershave balms than preshave treatments. On days when I have a lot of time, I sometimes use them both before and after. But I digress. The White, sensitive skin soap makes lather very easily, and it seems tolerant of a somewhat wide range of water content. It’s slick and probably has a bit better cushion than the others. The smell, while probably the least interesting of the three varieties of classic Proraso, is still nice. The note that sticks out the most for me is tea tree oil, though my nose is probably not the nose of a cologne mixer.

Next, allow me to sing the praises of Thayer’s Medicated Superhazel. This stuff is fantastic. It has enough alcohol to act as a disinfectant and astringent, but it’s mellow enough to make it very comfortable. If you’re feeling a sharp sting from this stuff, your face is beat to catshit, my friend. It leaves a clean, smooth face feel, and the ingredient list is basically a Who’s Who list of good stuff for your skin. I especially like the lingering clove oil scent of it. It’s not meant as an aftershave specifically, I suppose, but boy, it works. It’s also nice for a simple refreshing face splash after a long day, or for anything else an alcohol-bearing witch hazel would work for. It will certainly be a continuing staple.

Finally, a few thoughts about alum. I was not bleeding, burned, or otherwise in need of anything with styptic qualities tonight (thanks to the smooth operation of the Wilkinson Sword blade), so I skipped the alum. This, I believe, will be my preference in the future. For my skin, I find it a little too astringent. It leaves my skin uncomfortably tight, and I’m invariably in need of some form of balm or lotion. With using the Thayer’s (or another aftershave) as an astringent, I don’t feel that way, unless I’ve had a traumatic shave for some reason.

Oh, post script: I modified my three pass shave tonight, and found that I was able to more efficiently knock down the last of the lingering stubble on the third pass by doing a kind of hybrid against the grain/across the grain pass. I also did a somewhat more scientific cleanup pass, using the left hand to locate the rough patches and the right to wield the razor (as Nick Shaves demonstrates in his YouTube videos).

***
8/18/15:

Off day thoughts. Still impressed with the shave I got from the Wilkinson Sword blades. In times past, I would have been reasonably happy with the result from a cartridge razor (one pass) shave that I have after 20 hours of new growth. No real point in shaving tonight, though I’ll have some stubble tomorrow. Still, as much as I enjoy shaving lately, you have to give your face a break sometimes.

Pleased to hear that one of my friends is getting into safety razor shaving. He just got his first DE razor and had a shave with it. I’m hoping he’ll have as good an experience as I did. I am determined to be a resource for people who are interested in trying it out. It puts me in mind of another friend and coworker who has asked my advice about shaving in the past (before I got into DE shaving). I should touch base with him and see if he’s interested in trying DE shaving on for size.

***
8/19/15:

I remain pleased with the Wilkinson Sword Classic razor blade. The shave for today was Proraso Red, with both preshave and soap being employed. Very nice three pass shave, resulting in excellent closeness. This blade appears to have an excellent synergy with the AS-D2. Speaking of that Feather razor, I continue to be very impressed with it. while it is expensive, the tolerances are perfect. There is no way for the blade to go in askew, wobble, or otherwise misbehave. I have yet to get a single weeper or nick with this razor. I think I’ll have to really hamfist things to do so. (Sounds like a dare…)

Finished up with Captain’s Choice Sandalwood. I like this stuff. Initial scent, to me, smells like gin, but it quickly settles into a very mild and understated sandalwood scent. It isn’t the very sweet and powdery sandalwood like the Proraso soap/preshave (not that I don’t love that…it’s a favorite), but rather a darker scent that is probably more akin to what fresh cut sandalwood actually smells like. I believe that Captain’s Choice builds all their aftershaves on a base of Bay Rum. There are certainly some details to the scent that make it more complex than certain other sandalwoods.

Overall, great shave. I actually couldn’t wait to get going with the shave tonight, as I had a good little stubble going, having skipped yesterday. I can remember, not long ago, when I would have likely been pleased to eek out the rest of the week with some facial hair, but the switch to DE shaving has my interest and enthusiasm high. I wonder if I’ll always feel like I can’t wait to shave, or if this will mellow as time goes on.

***
8/20/15:

My final test shave with the Wilkinson Sword Classic razor blade. I went with a full menthol lineup, with Proraso Green preshave and soap, following with RiteAid store brand Aqua Velva knock-off.

Great shave. I am not sure what I did differently, but I got really explosive lathering from the soap tonight. The Wilkinson razor really impressed me. Highest marks. Stands shoulder to shoulder with anything that the Feather blade did in the AS-D2. Certainly an option I might look into as a default, provided that some other blade in the test doesn’t impress me to an equal or greater degree. It is possible that’ll happen. I have some real heavy hitters, like all the Gillette blades, and I believe a Voshkod, all lined up.

There may be better razors than the Feather AS-D2 out there. It’s likely that there are some that equal it in fit and finish, performance, and overall quality being sold at equal or lesser expense. That said, the AS-D2 is the best razor I’ve ever seen in person. I know, I know. I need to get out more. I’m just saying that, if I had to take one DE razor to a desert island tonight, I would feel pretty okay about taking the AS-D2.

A parting thought about the off-brand Aqua Velva clone. This is not my first rodeo with fake AV. I actually found a small sampler bottle of similar type that was from K-Mart (from the 90’s, I believe). Every time, clone or the real thing, I discover how much I like the Aqua Velva smell and lingering face feel. For people just starting into wet shaving (with cartridge, safety razor, or straight razor), I just want to articulate that you don’t need the most expensive aftershave. As long as it smells and feels like you want it to, have fun. You might find you like the five buck stuff at the local drug store better than the exclusive brands. Or not.

The same goes with soaps, razor blades, brushes, anything. Most of my gear is fairly economical. Proraso products are reasonable. My Parker razor and Escali brush are very reasonably priced. None of the blades I have, even in small packages, approach a dollar a piece. Most are between $9 and $20 for a pack of 100. Yes, my Feather Seki Edge razor is the odd one out, likely costing more than all the other gear combined, but I purchased it as a result of making a conscious decision to spend that money and risk being disappointed. Does it shave better than my Parker 99R? Yes. No question. THAT much better? I can only make a subjective assessment there. For me, yes. Your economics and aesthetics may come to a different conclusion.

***
8/22/15:

I did the “for the record” shave with the AS-D2 and Gillette Silver Blue blades. Good shave, very close and comfortable. I continue to be pleased with the performance of the Proraso White soap. As I get more and more familiar with it, I keep getting better lather and more comfortable shaves. I finished with Old Spice. Nice short term burn, but no lingering discomfort.

My shave technique is still in some flux, as I find the most efficient directions to apply the razor. After so many years of essentially going on autopilot with a cartridge razor, I am enjoying leading the “examined life” again. Initially, I subscribed to the “one direction at a time” method, where I tried to adhere to compass points for each shaving pass. That resulted in the four pass shave I developed for the Parker. I think however, that the four pass wastes a little time and runs the razor over facial terrain that may not need another pass in that direction.

My current three pass methodology is to go with the classic, with the grain, downward pass first. I can’t see how, unless you have skin like resined leather, you would be well advised to do otherwise. Second, I do an across the grain pass from the ear toward the nose. I continue this pass to below the jawline, then do an upward pass to encompass the neck and under-the-chin area. I used to think of this as an against the grain pass, but it is probably close to an across the grain pass, given the growth of beard under my chin. The third pass is sort of a hybrid across the grain/against the grain pass. I go outward from the edge of my chin beard toward my ear, then follow the jawline upward to get that stubborn growth line next to my ear. I follow that second across the grain pass with a bit of clean up going straight upward, mainly near my goatee area. I also go outward and below the jawline with this pass, before another upward pass beneath my chin.

Typically, I will find that the only place that has any lingering growth to clean up is along the crease line on my neck. I lather that area and go over it in short diagonal strokes (with a very light hand). With the sensitivity of my skin in that spot, there’s no way to totally eliminate the irritation, but I can minimize it to a strawberry that fades within an hour or so.

I’m interested to see how the Gillette Silver Blue blade performs for the next two shaves. Thus far, very positive. I like to see that there are many brands and types out there that can give a good shave with my current equipment. After this blade test, I’m going to go back to the Parker and do a few blade tests with that razor. My instinct is to try the Derby Extra with it next, just so that I have the two purported ends of the sharpness spectrum covered (having already tried Feathers).

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